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Telling tales: EU official accuses UK of spreading ‘myths’ about immigration

Published time: January 10, 2014 11:38
Reuters / Luke Macgregor

Reuters / Luke Macgregor

In a scathing attack on the UK’s immigration policy, a UN official has slammed London for peddling “myths” about an “invasion of foreigners”. Viviane Reding, vice president of the EU Commission, said the scare tactics are part of a strategy to win votes.

Speaking on a webchat on EU citizenship, Reding said British politicians were putting the future of the UK in jeopardy for the sake of their political ambitions. She warned that the political rhetoric about the impending arrival of a wave of migrants, who will take jobs and leech off the welfare system, was a “myth”

“Most of the things which are told to the people in Great Britain are myths, [and] have nothing to do with reality."
Reding argues that in fact the arrival of EU migrants, in fact, stimulated the UK economy, causing GDP to grow by “3-4 percent”.

“I am mostly frustrated about the political leaders because what is leadership if you just try with populistic movements and populistic speech to gain votes?” said Reding. She appealed to all of the “reasonable forces” in Britain to dispel the distorted version of events that the UK government has created and explain to people what the European Union really is.

"You are destroying the future of your people, actually,” said Reding, condemning Prime Minister David Cameron’s policy of “populism” and “Euroskepticism”.

Reding’s come off the back of a flurry of rhetoric from EU leaders condemning new immigration policies that have been implemented by the UK government. Prime Minister David Cameron has moved to cut immigration to the UK.

Furthermore, the government is also taking measures to restrict migrants’ access to the British welfare system.
On Sunday David Cameron said he would like to change treaties with the EU that would allow him to cut child benefit for workers from other EU countries.

“It’s wrong that someone from Poland, who comes here, who works hard (and I am absolutely all in favor of that) — but I don’t think we should be paying child benefit, to their family back at home in Poland,” said Cameron.

His words provoked outrage from Poland’s ambassador to the UK who accused Cameron of attempting to “stigmatize” Poles as scroungers and benefit cheats.

“There is no need to single out, to stigmatize Poles” who come to Britain "to work hard, not to abuse the system or grab the benefits,” Ambassador Witold Sobków told The Huffington Post.

The British government has also championed a number of measures to cut down on illegal immigration. Among them is legislation that would fine landlords who rent properties to illegal immigrants. This measure has been criticized in particular amid accusations it will lead to a climate of racial profiling and discrimination.

David Cameron has pledged to hold a referendum on the UK’s EU membership in 2017 if his Conservative Party emerges victorious from the next general election in 2015.